Black Mountain Crest Trail

One of the most delightful hikes I've done recently was tracking the Black Mountain Crest Trail this summer with my sister Anna. The way we tackled it, the trail climbs 3100' out of the Bowlens Creek Trailhead (N35 52.611 W82 17.083) to the top of Celo Knob (6327') and then follows a knife-edge ridgeline 12 miles south to the summit of Mt Mitchell, NC. At 6684', Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi, but along the way you also have the opportunity to bag six other 6000' peaks and enjoy amazing vistas to the East and West. The trail is just a narrow track through chest-high blueberry bushes and scrub conifers, and is quite unlike anything else in the area. The latter half of the trail, south of Deep Gap, is used fairly often by day-hikers out of Mitchell, but on the northern leg you are more likely to see a bear than a person.

P.S. Make sure you work out in advance which member of the hiking party is responsible for retaining the vehicle keys for the 'End' trailhead. It is a long and demoralizing walk back.

View from the slope of Celo Knob, looking south along the
ridge of 6000' peaks that comprise the Black Mountain Crest Trail.